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Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz preview: Nets wrap up long road trip

Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Last one to go. The Brooklyn Nets have been on the road for the past week and are trying to make it back home in one piece. They fought back from down 16 points and had a chance to force it to overtime, but couldn’t do enough to get by the Golden State Warriors.

The opponent tonight is looking to keep the good vibes going. The Utah Jazz still have a way to go, but they’re starting to figure some things out. They had won back-to-back games, but ran into the human buzzsaw known as Keegan Murray on Saturday night. Murray made a team record 12 3-pointers as he and the Kings cruised to a 21-point victory.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 9:00 p.m. ET.

Injuries

No Ben Simmons, Lonnie Walker IV, and Dennis Smith Jr. Dorian Finney-Smith is questionable with left knee soreness after missing the Warriors game.

Jordan Clarkson is out with a right hamstring strain. Keyonte George is out with left foot inflammation. Luka Samanic, Omer Yurtseven, and John Collins are each questionable with an illness.

The game

The turnover battle will decide this one. The Jazz are last in the NBA in turnovers and the Nets are last in forcing turnovers. The turnovers have been a bug-a-boo for Utah all season, and Sarah Todd of the Deseret News made this observation:

On a lot of nights the Jazz are not going to be favored to win, especially when some of their most important players are sidelined.

What’s troubling about leading the league in things like turnovers and opponent points off turnovers is how linked those things are to effort and a basic care factor.

You don’t have to have the most talented players or the most stacked roster to value the ball and make smart decisions. You don’t have to be the most skilled roster to get back on defense, to put bodies between the ball and the basket. And despite the fact the Jazz practice hard and say the right things, there’s a disconnect.

Young teams tend to make a bunch of mistakes, and it’s up to them to ensure that the mistakes don’t pile up too much.

At the very least, we know the threes will fly tonight. Both teams are top ten in both threes attempted and threes allowed. As they both know from their games against the Kings, they can’t let the opponent get hot or they risk getting run out the gym. Whoever can limit the damage from three will win.

For Mikal Bridges, he’s shown an innate ability to bounce back from rough outings and the team will need that again to close out the road trip. Bridges only went 6-of-17 from the field and had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds on Saturday, but couldn’t bring it home. The Nets need for Bridges to keep attacking and shooting as much as possible. For Bridges, the best thing is to keep getting his shots within the flow of the offense and trust that they’ll go in.

With all the injuries on the Jazz, it’s led to more opportunities for Collin Sexton to make something happen. He’s started the past three games and has shot 58.4% from the field. His 3-point shot hasn’t been there this year, but Nets fans know all too well what he can do when he’s dialed in. For the Nets, they’ll look for Cam Thomas to light it up one more time before they head back home. When Thomas heats up, he’s unstoppable and presents a myriad of matchup problems for opposing defenders.

Player to watch: Lauri Markkanen

The trade market is open, and everybody’s trying to see if they can land the big guy. So far at least, Utah is not open for business. And it makes all the sense in the world, as the big guy has been solid since coming over from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Markkanen does a lot of things well for a big and having a forward/center that can do what he does makes the Jazz a tough cover

Nic Claxton will be the force to watch on the inside for Brooklyn. Clax keeps playing at a high level and has fully developed into a two way force. Every team needs a big man that can finish in traffic, attack the basket, and defend the rim at the level Claxton does. The last day of a road trip is always the toughest. You see home in the distance and are itching to get back to your house and rest up. The Nets are going to need to muster all the energy they can give to wrap this up and come back to Barclays feeling good.

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More reading: SLC Dunk, SB Nation NBA, Nets Republic, Deseret News, The J Notes